Image source: Andrew McGibbon, Caiman, 2015
Albeit “to smell” is about the closest we get to hallucinating, it’s always interesting to experience a glitch in the wiring. Driving back from the store, listening to music, I bought a bottle of perfume, sprayed my wrist, and headed home. Smells like white flowers, cardamom, and wood. Now, when I smell perfume, I basically expect that everything smells like everything. Fragrance is different from everyday smells in that you can never know what to expect. It could be anything in there, in some small amount, but for some reason, a part of you can zero-in on that one thing.
It’s not really hallucinating, but it is a huge distortion in one’s olfactory perception: So I’m listening to the intro, the build-up. And then the bass drops, and the drums come crashing in. And in that brief moment, right when it first drops, and when the adrenaline bursts to a peak, my nose picked out the musk, or something animal, and only for that one second. Sure it was there the whole time, artfully crafted and camouflaged into the blanket of others. But for that one second, the part-of-me-that-smells had zoned-in on that one molecule, and then gone.
I couldn’t pick it out again. Sure it‘s there, but it’s back in the blanket. Maybe if I skip to the next track…